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house Bill H.R. 528

Should More Federal Lands be Open for Recreational Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting?

Argument in favor

Creating more opportunities for fishing and hunting on federal lands will not only make it easier for people to enjoy the hobbies they love, but it would foster an attitude of stewardship and sustainable management of the environment.

People don't understand that hunters aren't chasing endangered wildlife. If anything they act as a natural balance now that humankind has short sightedly removed the apex predators such as bears and wolves. Additionally, hunting tags finance the stewardship of said lands.
Like (19)
Elizabeth's Opinion
Sportsmen have always played an active role in animal conservation and accountability. They can be a potent ally in protecting animals and in conserving natural resources.
Like (8)
Cameron's Opinion
we can use the money from the hunters paying for tags and to use the land to help keep the lands preserved
Like (5)

Argument opposed

The government needs to preserve as much public land as possible. Even if this bill doesn’t allow economic development on these lands, the increased use for fishing and hunting will damage already fragile ecosystems.

Marvin's Opinion
We need to protect our wildlife not kill it. In fact, some bans on low numbers of species should be enacted, such as the wolf.
Like (18)
Matt's Opinion
Federal land is preserved for everyone's enjoyment, not just hunting and shooting outdoorsmen. These become mutually exclusive when hunting/shooting creates safety concerns and risks for all visitors.
Like (9)
Rich's Opinion
We need to set aside some land and leave it untouched for future generations of Americans.
Like (9)

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Agriculture
      Conservation and Forestry
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedJanuary 26th, 2015

What is House Bill H.R. 528?

This bill would make federal public lands more accessible for fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting. This would come through mandates to federal public land management officials in collaboration with state fish and wildlife agencies.

National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, and wilderness eligible/primitive/semi-primitive are among the lands that could be opened. Lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (USFS) could also apply. Exceptions to this legislation would include:

  • Concerns around national security, public safety, or resource conservation.

  • Any other federal statute that specifically precludes recreational fishing, hunting, or shooting on federal public lands and waters.

  • Discretionary limitations on recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting determined to be necessary and reasonable as supported by the best scientific evidence and advanced through a transparent public process.

The heads of each federal public land management agency would be directed to use their best judgment to support and facilitate recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting opportunities. Exercising their discretion would be done to the extent authorized under the applicable state law and in accordance with federal law.

Lands managed by the National Park Service would not be affected by this bill. Nothing in this legislation would authorize commodity development, use or extraction, permanent road construction, or motorized recreational access and use that isn’t otherwise allowed under the Wilderness Act.

Under this bill, if federal land (exceeding 640 acres) that had previously been open for hunting/fishing/shooting is re-classified to close off access — the land cannot be re-classified unless it goes through the following processes:

  • The head of the agency making the closure publishes an appropriate notice of the public land’s status.

  • The agency has demonstrated that coordination has occurred with the state's fish and wildlife agencies.

  • The head of the agency has submitted a written notice of the status change to relevant congressional committees.


People who would fish, hunt, and shoot recreationally on available federal lands, state fish and wildlife agencies, federal land management agencies (i.e. BLM, USFS) and their directors, and relevant congressional committees.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 528

A current CBO cost estimate is unavailable. The CBO did analyze a previous version of this legislation in June 2013, and found that it would have no significant effect on the federal budget.

More Information

In-Depth: The head of each federal agency that manages public lands where fishing, hunting, or recreational shooting is allowed would have to submit a report to the relevant congressional committees every other year on October 1.

Versions of this legislation have been introduced in the 112th Congress and the 113th Congress. Both times it was passed by the House Natural Resources committee (on votes of 29-14 and 28-15, respectively), but did not receive a vote on the House floor in either introduction.

Of Note: 
In a 2011 survey compiled by the Department of the Interior — the entity that oversees agencies that manage federal lands and waterways — it was estimated that there are more than 33.1 million anglers (i.e. people who fish) in the U.S., and about 13.7 million people who hunt. It further projected that anglers spent nearly $42 billion on fishing in 2011, while hunters spent $34 billion on their hobby.

The BLM, which has 245 million acres of public land under its administration, is in charge of more federal land than any other agency. It holds that claim over the Forest Services, which manages 193 million acres. Together, they manage 438 million acres —  684,375 square miles — an area larger than Alaska.


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user USFWS Headquarters


Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act

Official Title

To direct Federal public land management officials to exercise their authority under existing law to facilitate use of and access to Federal public lands for fishing, sport hunting, and recreational shooting, and for other purposes.